United States v. Foster
9th Cir COA - 1998
- D was driving his pickup truck when he was stopped by police. In the bed of the truck, under a tarp and in a zipped up bag, was a loaded semiautomatic weapon and a bucket. The bucket contained drugs, scales, baggies, and handwritten notes about drug sales.
- D was convicted of possession of meth and of carrying a firearm during drug trafficking. (18 USC 924(c)(1)).
- Trial court found D guilty of carrying a firearm during drug trafficking.
- 9th Cir COA reversed, found D was not carrying firearm during drug trafficking.
- What does the gun possession during drug trafficking statute mean by "carrying a weapon"?
- In order for a D to be convicted of carrying a weapon during drug trafficking, the weapon must be within hand's reach while the vehicle was in motion.
- It is not required that the weapon be on the person. The requirement is that the weapon can be put to use quickly.
- Carry should not be construed so broadly as to encompass mere possession.
- The rule of lenity says that statutes should be construed narrowly and in favor of defendants.
- The gun was way in the back and was not able to be used quickly by the driver.
- Trott, J.
- Congress did not intend for a hypertechnical or narrow construction of the word carry.
- Whether the gun is in reach or not is irrelevant.
- The majority's opinion is divorced from the real street world of drug traffickers.